By Grace Hitchcock
Sometimes it is tempting to allow drama and heartache to swamp our stories. Years ago, a favorite professor of mine would say over and over how “only trouble is interesting.” Today, I’d like to talk about how happiness can be just as moving/interesting as tragedy and that it is okay to let our characters be happy. Trouble gives the heroine a journey, but those moments of happiness give the heroine the hope and courage she needs to see the journey through.
3 Uses for Happy Moments:
- Contrast. Happy moments can provide us with a baseline for plot development to show where our heroine longs to be again or wishes to go. This contrast brings light to the darkness of a story’s present trouble. Everyone has ups and downs in life, but it’s important to remember the ups.
- Balance. Having too much heaviness in the story will bog down your reader. I enjoy getting lost in a story, laughing with the heroine, having my heart race at moments of danger and rejoicing with the heroine when she is given a flower from her love in the midst of said danger, making the reader pause and focus in on that special moment. You need to have happiness to add balance to the story and give the reader’s heart a break.
- Hope. What greater motivation is there to get through trials for a heroine than that of hope for a “happily ever after” with her prince? Now, for the heroine, her idea of a happy conclusion might be that her family is fed, she lands a job that keeps her out of the poor house, she meets her true love, or finally has the long-awaited child. Whatever their trial, use their hope to add light to their journey.
For my recent release, The White City, the plot revolved around an evil true crime and I had to look for ways to apply happy moments to the plot so as not to allow the story to become consumed in the darkness that surrounded America’s first serial killer, H. H. Holmes.
Example: Think of Anne of Green Gables. Was there ever a happier daydreaming girl? Her only troubles were her red hair, the spelling of her name and her longing to being called Cordelia. She didn’t suffer horrible tragedies all the time. Her greatest loss was of her parents and Matthew, but Lucy Maud Montgomery didn’t allow the loss to consume Anne; rather, Montgomery used it as a tool to bond Anne and Marilla together all the more. Memories of Matthew, though sad with his parting, were all happy.
Don’t underestimate the power of a sprinkle of happiness!
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Grace Hitchcock is the author of The White City and The Gray Chamber from Barbour Publishing. She has written multiple novellas in The Second Chance Brides, The Southern Belle Brides, and the Thimbles and Threads collections with Barbour Publishing. She holds a Masters in Creative Writing and a Bachelor of Arts in English with a minor in History. Grace lives in southern Louisiana with her husband, Dakota, and son. Visit Grace online at GraceHitchcock.com, on Twitter: @grace_hitchcock and Instagram: @gracehitchcockbooks. For author news, sign up for Grace Hitchcock’s newsletter here.